Loch Ness in Scotland, home of Nessie, and Lake Champlain in the U.S., home of Champ, may be two of the most well-known residences of alleged lake monsters. But the Salt Lake City area has its own legendary sea serpents.
Bear Lake, located northeast of Salt Lake City on the Utah-Idaho border, is a popular recreation spot for boating, fishing and camping. The stunning turquoise-colored lake, known as the "Caribbean of the Rockies," is also home to large, snake-like monsters that have been spotted for generations. The Shoshoni Indians may have been the first people to see the creature. Describing it as serpentine with short legs, tribe members claimed to have seen the Bear Lake Monster spurt water and to occasionally crawl ashore. It was even seen to snatch unwary swimmers in its jaws and carry them away beneath the surface, according to their stories. The Shoshoni said the monster might have left the lake after the area buffalo disappeared in the 1820s.
Yet, sightings by others persisted:
- Reputable pioneer families reputedly saw the creature. In 1860, Marion Thomas and Phineas Cook's two sons were out fishing on the lake when the monster surfaced. They said it swam so close to their boat that "they might have shot it with a rifle."
- In 1871, Milando Pratt and Thomas Rich actually did shoot at it, but it just swam away.
- William Budge, a wagon train captain, reported his encounter with the monster to Brigham Young himself in 1874. About 20 yards from shore, the creature poked its head out of the water, Budge said. "Its face and part of its head were distinctly seen, covered with fur, or short hair of a light snuff color." He further described it as flat-faced with "very full large eyes, prominent ears" and a neck of about four to five feet in length.
A more recent sighting was in 1946 when Preston Pond, an executive for the Cache Valley Boy Scout, gave such a highly detailed description of his encounter that it was difficult to dismiss. Hey, scouts don't lie.
Several attempts have been made to capture the monster. After Budge reported his sighting, Brigham Young enlisted Phineas Cook to devise a plan to catch it. He linked a 300-foot length of one-inch-thick rope to a cable at the end of which he fastened a large barbed hook. A hunk of mutton was skewered on the hook as bait. The lure was then dropped into the lake with a buoy to mark its location. The ploy was attempted several times, and each time the hook was stripped of its bait, the pioneers assumed, by the clever monster. One tall tale blames the monster for crawling ashore and eating 20 of rancher Aquila Nebeker's sheep... and, possibly, a large roll of barbed wire. The real thief was no doubt grateful for the monster legend.
Yes, Bigfoot stomps around the wilderness areas of Utah, too. In fact there are as many Bigfoot or Sasquatch sightings in Utah as there are in Oregon and Washington. This is just a small sampling of reported sightings:
- In 1977, two experienced hikers were leading five others along a trail in the mountains north of Ogden when they spotted a creature that stood eight to 10 feet tall and sported a mantle of white fur. They watched it for 20 minutes.
- In 1979, a husband and wife were elk hunting near Monte Cristo, east of Ogden, when they heard a strange noise and smelled a four odor. Shortly thereafter, the wife spotted a "hairy thing, with fangs" at water hole through the telescopic sight of her rifle.
- In 1980, an small-airplane pilot reported seeing a large, hairy creature trudging through the deep snow of the High Uintas.
- In 1981, the police chief of Garland, Box Elder County, saw a creature run in front of his car. Several other residents also reported sightings, and tracks were found that led in a northwest direction.
In 1988, ranchers near Garland reported seeing two Bigfoot-like creatures near their lambing pens after dark. Soon after, many tracks were found in the Garland area in deep snow and were followed for two miles.
Ron Mower, a construction worker, says he has seen Bigfoot nine times since 1968, one time at a distance of just about 30 feet.
Bigfoot has been seen so frequently in the Uintah mountains near Ogden that in September, 1977, a search party was organized to search for the creature. The hunt was put together, according to a newspaper account, after "two North Ogden men and six youths reported seeing the gorilla-like creature that ambled off into the timber after seeing them. The party was about one-half mile away on a ridge and watched the creature move off for about a one-half mile before it disappeared." Unfortunately, the expedition turned up no conclusive evidence. Yet many more sightings in this area have been reported. In fact, one newspaper item "warned" that things could get "hairy" for Olympic skiers at the Snowbasin ski resort because they'll be "treading on Bigfoot's turf."
Some researchers have even wondered if there is a Mormon connection to Bigfoot, which may be associated with "a spirit of 'intrigue' with evil and the devil, demons, and evil spirits only invites such influences."
You can find more information about these and other Utah sightings at:
Have You Had a